Fighting Depression While Raising Children: It Takes An (Online) Village
By Her Bad Mother on February 28, 2010
BlogHer Original Post
I've said it here before and I'll say it again: in my darkest, most troubled, most difficult moments, the Internet has saved my life. Sure, my doctor and my psychiatrist and my Ativan prescription were all some help in keeping my head above water when the waves of post-partum depression crashed and pounded over me, but really, it was the presence of a community of women who were speaking truth to power about the reality of post-partum depression that kept me afloat. Every single blog that told a story of another mom's fight through the darkness was a lifesaver for me. Every single one kept me from going under.
The first post that addressed post-partum depression that I ever read was one of Heather Armstrong at Dooce. I found it by Googling - wait for it - post-partum depression. It was some ten weeks after I'd given birth to Emilia, but it was dated just few days after her birthday (the year before, but still) and I felt as though it had been written directly to me:
If you are depressed, please know that you are not alone. Please get help. If you know someone who is depressed, please understand that they are in pain, and please help them get help. Most importantly, listen to music a little louder, dance a little crazier, sing out loud in the shower, honk your horn for no reason, give your dog an extra treat, call your mother and tell her you love her, hug your friends even if they aren't the touchy-feely type, eat french fries once even though your diet tells you not to, walk around your house naked, and hold tight to your motherf*cking family.
I called my psychiatrist, whose calls I'd been avoiding since I'd left the hospital, the next morning. I also grabbed my husband and held him tight and asked him to please, please never let go of me and to also make sure that my prescriptions were always filled but never within easy reach and I swore that I would never, ever deny being depressed to him or anyone ever again. That was the first step. It was a big one. (I really should thank Heather for that. Thank you, Heather.)
I've read countless posts by countless women on the subject of post-partum since then. I've written countless posts on post-partum depression since then. I'm willing to bet that some of those posts - if not mine, then others - have done for some other women what Heather's post did for me. And the posts keep coming, and the community keeps building, and I hope - I hope - that many, many more lives are being saved.
And to further that cause... here's a small round-up of some such (more recent) posts. Pass them on:
- From Katherine Stone at Postpartum Progress: The Symptoms of Postpartum Depression & Anxiety (In Plain Mama English), and The Symptoms of Postpartum Psychosis (In Plain Mama English). Must-reads, for obvious reasons.
- From Laughing Through The Chaos: I'll Huff and I'll Puff and I'll Blow This House Down. On how rage can attend depression, and how unsettling that is.
- From Amalah, writing at AlphaMom: The Many Faces Of Postpartum Depression. On realizing that PPD doesn't just mean being sad, and that fear and panic and really spooky freak-outs are symptoms, too.
- From Therese Borchard, at Beyond Blue: 12 Depression Busters For New Moms. At least one of them has got to work, right?
- From Heather Armstrong, at Dooce: Beginning the year with a bang. On how it can all creep up on you again, when you don't really expect it, even though you've been managing it and doing okay and cruising along and BAM, you really do need to get more sleep, don't you?
- From me, at Her Bad Mother: Shame and the Mom: A Boob Story, on breastfeeding and postpartum depression and how the whole boob thing can make depression all that much more hard, and On Ships And Sails And Sealing Wax and Hoarding Stuff and Things, on trying to understand my own depression through the lens of my father's mental illness.
This list is, obviously, very partial. I'd love to hear what posts on PPD and depression you've been moved or inspired or empowered by in the last 6 months or so - leave links in the comments!